The royals arrived at Hillsborough Castle in Belfast on Tuesday, September 13, as part of their U.K. tour. They viewed the tributes, including flowers and handwritten notes, left in honor of the late queen, who died on Thursday, September 8, at age 96. They also attended a Service of Reflection in honor of the queen at St Anne’s Cathedral.
While addressing Irish residents for the first time as king, Charles, 73, said he’d continue his mother’s mission to maintain the welfare of Northern Ireland.
“In the years since she began her long life of public service, my mother saw Northern Ireland pass through momentous and historic changes,” the new regent said in a speech on Tuesday. “Through all those years, she never ceased to pray for the best of times for this place and for its people, whose stories she knew, whose sorrows our family had felt, and for whom she had a great affection and regard.”
“My mother felt deeply, I know, the significance of the role she herself played in bringing together those whom history had separated, and in extending a hand to make possible the healing of long-held hurts,” he continued. “At the very beginning of her life of service, The Queen made a pledge to dedicate herself to her country and her people and to maintain the principles of constitutional government. This promise she kept with steadfast faith. Now, with that shining example before me, and with God’s help, I take up my new duties resolved to seek the welfare of all the inhabitants of Northern Ireland.”
Hours before the queen’s passing, it was confirmed that she was “under medical supervision” after postponing several public engagements.
“Following further evaluation this morning, The Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” a statement read at the time. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
Shortly after the monarch’s death, Charles — who ascended the throne upon his mother’s death —broke his silence on his loss.
“The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family,” the king said in a statement on Thursday. “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”
The following day, Charles made his first speech as king. “I … solemnly pledge myself throughout the remaining time God grants me to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation,” he said while addressing the U.K. “And wherever you may live in the United Kingdom or in the realms and territories across the world and whatever may be your background or beliefs, I shall endeavor to serve you with loyalty, respect, and love as I have throughout my life.”
He took time to speak of his family during his ascension speech as well. “I want also to express my love for Harry and Meghan, as they continue to build their lives overseas,” Charles noted of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Meanwhile, Prince William, and his wife, Kate, are now the Prince and Princess of Wales. He declared Camilla as Queen Consort, per Her Majesty’s wishes.
The queen is survived by her four children: Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Elizabeth — who shared her children with late husband Prince Philip — is also succeeded by eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Ahead of her death, Elizabeth celebrated her Platinum Jubilee earlier this year, which marked 70 years on the British throne.
“As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service,” she said in a February statement. “As I look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism to the year of my Platinum Jubilee, I am reminded of how much we can be thankful for. These last seven decades have seen extraordinary progress socially, technologically and culturally that have benefitted us all; and I am confident that the future will offer similar opportunities to us and especially to the younger generations in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth.”
She continued at the time: “I am fortunate to have had the steadfast and loving support of my family. I was blessed that in Prince Philip I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it. It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father’s reign.”
Charles and Camilla’s trip will be a quick one. They are expected in London on Wednesday, September 14, for a service at Westminster Hall, led by The Archbishop of Canterbury and Reverend Dr. David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, before the queen’s coffin lies in state. The public will have the opportunity to pay their respects in person for several days before the state funeral on Monday, September 19.
Scroll down for photos of their Northern Ireland trip: